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Author Topic: My first cable damascus  (Read 4922 times)
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J Anderson R
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« on: October 11, 2008, 09:51:28 PM »

Ive been seeing alot of cable blades online lately so I decided Id try my luck. All forging was done with my hammer and the anvil, I dont have a press, though after today Im realy considering buying one. The first pic is 1"improved plow steel cable and one of the two cable billets I welded up for this experiment. The second pic is the second welded billet that I ground to check the weld quality and a rough forged blade from the first billet. The last pic is the finished and etched blade blank, all ready for a handle. I had to trim a couple flaws out of the blade profile, but I got very solid results, and I have enough steel left for 6 or 7 more narrow tang blades, thats a good day Grin
As always, critique welcome    



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« Last Edit: October 12, 2008, 05:35:04 PM by J Anderson R » Logged

Josh Anderson

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Ed Fowler
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2008, 10:40:07 PM »

There was a time when I was very enthusiastic about Wire Damascus. Wayne Goddard got the idea when he came across on old knife forged from cable. He made some nice looking knives out of it. It was Wayne's article on Wire Damascus in one of the Knives Annuals that got Wayne and I together. I had been trying to make it and was having a lot of trouble trying to get it welded up right. I read Wayne's article, called him and thanks to his knowledge switched to anhydrous borax and knew success. We became good friends thanks to that Wire Damascus introduction. For a while I had good times with it, I gave up on it because I could not make it perform like I felt a knife should.

There was a time when you either used cable or mild steel, carbon steel was very valuable and scarce and there were probably l lot of wire Damascus knives made. You can have a lot of fun with it.
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J Anderson R
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2008, 12:29:22 AM »

It was Waynes books that first introduced me to the material, and his obvious love of the stuff that got me curious about the whole process. Luckily I used anhydrous borax so I had good welds.Im probably going to destroy this pretty little blade over the next week. Ed, in what way did you feel the material didnt perform as a knife should? I havent done any testing on it yet, and Il make sure to give that area (areas) some special attention.  Smiley
« Last Edit: October 13, 2008, 12:31:22 AM by J Anderson R » Logged

Josh Anderson

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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2008, 09:33:49 AM »

I have learned a lot since I made any. But when I tested it I did not  got over 50 cuts, usually around 20.  It was very low on lateral strength, but very tough. It takes a lot of heat and knowledge to get wire Damascus to weld up well. When we start with a large number of wires in our first billet we stand a better chance of good welds. The best cutting performance I ever got out of any layered Damascus was with chainsaw chain, could usually get around 200.

Back in the 80's Damascus was very popular, but no makers really tested their blades, most simply relayed what they heard. The toughest test was the ABS performance standard which is very easy to pass, it does not require much out of a knife. The rope slice, torque wrench and edge flex are the most predictive tests of blade performance.

We never know the performance qualities of a blade until we have tested it to destruction. Then when we must continue to destroy a representative sample to maintain a reasonable level of quality control.

If I wanted to experiment with layered Damascus I would do the following.

1) Give the final billet a 1,000 degree soak for 2 hours for every inch to the center.

2) Use many thermal cycles and forging quenches during the shaping of the blade.

What limits performance potential of layered Damascus is the high heat required for the initial welding, this results in large grain that limits performance. Rex just sent me some photomicrographs of 52100 made in his steel mill. these were indexes of quality control. The wide variation in samples is very apparent, these were of steel made in their mill, very controlled high Tech. equipment and methods - still they had to work for quality.

For the bladesmith to do a better job than the high Tech. steel mill can is pretty optimistic. But Damascus is pretty and for most the illusion of performance is enough, very few layered Damascus blades are ever put to the ultimate test.

The best of the Wootz materials and methods are what led us to work with high quality 52100 and see how far we could go. We start with what be believe is the best available and work with the steel evaluating all we do through performance testing. Once we achieve a gain in performance, Rex and his science explains what we achieved from the scientists vision. We continue to learn and it is always good times. Fine grain - Banding and layered transition zones is what interests us and all that we are doing are secrets that were known by bladesmiths who made knives for agriculture and battle for many years.

When performance leads the way and science explains what happened and why - we can know good times. Never let science limit you, most of the science available to us is for industry where economy and 'good enough' are the goals.

I like your attitude, enthusiam and questions!
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2008, 11:35:10 AM »

Cutting update!

 I wanted to test they edge holding ability, but I was all out of rope. Living in Minnesota, we have alot of pine trees, so I figured if it couldnt handle pine, I wouldnt bother with it. I got the edge shaving sharp and went to work carving big strips out of a chunk I found in the corner of my shop. After forty minutes or so I felt the knife touch my thumb, I looked at it and the very tip of my thumb was gone, top of the fingernail too, I barely felt it. So after dressing my wound I went back to work, this time chopping lengthwise(much more carefully now) for 15 minutes, then stopped and checked my edge. I found she was still shaving sharp. I got hung up on a big knot and I gave up trying to chop through it, but the blade stayed sharp and they edge didnt chip out. Im thinking this may be just luck, I need to get some good 1/2" climing rope and do some controlled tests and then average my results. Next comes the flex and torque test, but being its wire rope, Im thinking it will pass those fairly easily. Im thinking since I started out with big rope with big diameter wires and used minimal welding heats, there may have been enough carbon left to hold a decent edge. But like I say, this was pine, Ill go see if I can find some hickory and see if Im still smiling then Wink

 
« Last Edit: October 24, 2008, 12:25:50 AM by J Anderson R » Logged

Josh Anderson

"We find comfort among those who agree with us- growth among those who dont"- Frank A Clark
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